20 September 2022 13:29:38 IST

Myths and realities about the CAT exam

CAT 2022 is scheduled to take place on November 27, 2022 | Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Common Admission Test (CAT), the management entrance exam to get into IIMs and other top B-schools in India, is set to take place on November 27, 2022. The CAT aspirants must be toiling hard the last few months to get into their dream colleges. It is crucial to be preparing in the right direction at this point in time to crack the CAT.

Here are some myths surrounding CAT that stems from lack of awareness:

Long hours

Do not just focus on the number of hours of study, focus instead on what you do in those hours. This exam is about aptitude and simply working hard on the basics may not be enough. One has to work at the level the exam is, rather than only solving the basic level questions of VARC/DILR and QA. One should slowly raise one’s level to the level of the CAT exam and accordingly practise.

If the CAT is about RC passages and para-based questions such as para jumble and para summary, then one is expected to practice these kinds of questions more than only doing vocabulary- and grammar-based questions. Though vocabulary building and grammar knowledge are crucial to reading, one has to be smart enough to understand the application of these in the RCs and para-based questions rather than only learning words and memorising grammar rules, which may not be that helpful.

So, aspirants, focus on skill improvement and smart ways of solving questions. Learning the tricks and the shortcuts is more important here.

Following last year’s pattern

Do not have any preconceived notions that CAT will give you the same number or the same types of questions as was done in the last year or the year before. The CAT exam is known to throw surprises, so prepare with an open mind.

In CAT 2019, there were 100 questions to be done in 180 minutes; in CAT 2020 there were 76 questions to be done in 120 minutes; and in CAT 2021 there were 66 questions to be tackeld in 120 minutes. Be ready for surprises this year.

Highly competitive

It is generally believed that the competition is very stiff. The data seems to agree too — 2.5 lakh students vying for a liitle over 5,000 seats at the IIMs. But, if you dig deep, you will come to know that more than 50 per cent of the students go unprepared for the exam and take it without any serious practice.

So, the competition boils down to 1 lakh students. And, if we add seats from the other top colleges, then the total number of seats comes up to 15,000-20,000. A serious student can easily make it to the top B-schools with well-directed efforts.

CAT has high cut-offs

Generally, it is thought that to get into the IIMs one should have a very high percentile, not less than 99 percentile. But, that is not true. To get into the IIMs, one has to clear the sectional as well as the overall cut-offs. And, the minimum cut-offs to be considered for a call from IIMs is around 80-85% percentile only.

It is not about attempting all the questions, it is about choosing the easy and moderate questions and leaving out the tougher ones, as all the questions carry equal marks irrespective of the level of difficulty.

Tricky paper

The type of questions asked in the exam is mostly based on logic and mental ability and can be solved using basic concepts and common sense. With proper guidance, the so-called tough exam can be cracked and one can fulfill his or her IIM dream.

(The writer is Senior Regional Head, T.I.M.E.)